Empire Robotics, a Boston-based start-up, is beginning to sell their VERSABALL kits, a new-tech jamming gripper enabling adaptive gripping operations with a single inexpensive tool.
Filled with a granular material, in one mode it is squishy enough to envelop an object. Then, when a vacuum is created inside the ball, the granules get pulled together, solidifying around the object. The unique design enables the gripper to pick up a wide range of different objects, which can weigh up to 20 pounds. Early work was done in partnership with iRobot of Bedford, and funded by the Pentagon’s R&D arm, DARPA. Cornell holds the patent.